Bee Stings the Hive Mind

An award-winning photograph by Kathy Keatley Garvey captures a honeybee

This week, an award-winning image by UC Davis’s Kathy Keatley Garvey of a honeybee stinger in motion–never before captured on camera–traveled the social networks. Within the same news strands came a renewed Credo petition to ban a pesticide, Clothianidin, produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience, now definitively linked to the “mysterious bee die-off” or “colony collapse disorder.”

As a visual metaphor, this photograph (which first appeared, appropriately, in The Sacramento Bee) captures a core stinging concept: if bees perish, plants will too. And you know who eats plants. All animals. Um, including us. Yikes. As disconnected from nature as many have become, perhaps this digitally-captured stinger can help provide an additional wake-up call to cease dangerous pesticide use by agribusiness and home gardeners to effectively save the real Queen Bees and their colonies.

Social media and the internet, often referred to as the “hive mind“, provides an unprecedented platform for changemakers to “pollinate” ideas across the networks until tipping point trends occur. Jane McGonigal, innovator, tech geek and gamer, created an online network of problem-solvers around this issue called “I Love Bees” which helped to raise awareness of the issue and provide potential solutions.

The rise in hyper-local pesticide-free beekeeping across the country, both amateur and entrepreneurial, has been one response to the crisis. Since beekeeping became legal in New York City in 2010, rooftop gardens and farms have provided a boon in locavore honey production, as well as many other cities and towns. Hopeful buzz from Queens and all the other boroughs.

Additional reading:
Are Pesticides Behind Massive Bee Die-Offs?” by Tom Philpott, Mother Jones Magazine, January 2012
More evidence links pesticides to honeybee losses” by Claire Thompson, Grist, April 2012.

There are 7 comments

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  1. Jazmin G.

    Wow! This post couldn’t be at a better
    timing for me since I’m trying to get more and more into the
    gardening trend that’s becoming more popular every day. How
    interesting are bees related to plants and food that we need to
    survive. I guess the purpose of vmlab is to make us aware and
    inform us of different situation affecting the world nowadays. This
    is a perfect example of how social media has affected me right now
    with this information. I tried to sign the petition but there is like
    ten different sites where you can sign it. I did it at the only .com
    instead of the other nine that are .org. If somebody has any
    idea on where to sign the petition let me know.

  2. Melissa C

    Wow.  This is such a travesty.  Laws should be put into effect to protect bees.  After all, they lay the foundation on which our agricultural system runs.  So why do we fear them for their potential to sting us instead of embracing them for the greater impact they have upon our daily consumption?  I love the analogy, in the post, between social media and the hive.  As an educator, I feel like it is my role to inform students about online safety.  However, I feel like I must make a concerted effort to not only warn them of the hypothetical dangers of the Internet, but to, in some ways, more importantly, empower them with the tools to use the Internet for its greater purpose.  Social media can incite positive change in the same manner, in which bees contribute to our agriculture system, and they should both be equally embraced and protected.

    Check out this article and video in BBC to hear about David Bradshaw’s struggles as a rural beekeeper!http://

  3. Sweeneyk

    Thanks for the links to the BBC article and Queen of the Sun…it is on my to view list!  Clearly lots of people are awake to the bee matrix and its importance in the food chain….

  4. Larry

    Very interesting article and one that deserves much attention (since our survival is at stake…somewhat important.)  I remember reading about this a few years back, and wondering what exactly was causing the problem.  I’m happy to see that people are taking this issue to heart…one person at a time.

  5. Natasha

    Perfect example of how something small like a photo can change the world and awaken the minds of people. If this made me think about the current problem of bees then I bet it is the same for others. Poor little creatures, hopefully the world will start to think in other direction in order to save the bees. 

  6. Josh B

    Urban farming, local organics and raised awareness is one of the most important burgeoning movements in the entire social activism zeitgeist. Issues surrounding the Food supply are still waiting for a catalyst or a major moment in the online community to really galvanize an educational movement. Awareness campaigns are starting to evolve with documentaries as well as continued campaigns against food giants such as #Monsanto.  One of the major debates is the governments refusal to enforce labeling of the food in the market to notify consumers of genetically modified foods and their contents. 

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